How to Recover From Surgery Without Getting Addicted to Painkillers
Pain management is an important consideration when you’re having surgery – not only to minimize discomfort but also because good postoperative pain control plays a vital role in optimizing your recovery. The sooner you are able to get up and about, the less likely you are to develop complications like blood clots, hospital-acquired infections, and respiratory problems.
Fortunately, there are ways of improving postoperative pain control while lessening the risk of addiction. Here are some options to discuss with your physicians that may apply to your particular situation:
Multi-Modal Analgesia – This is a term developed by anesthesiologists to describe a pain control strategy that utilizes two or more different types of medications, with the goal of minimizing side effects and preventing an over-dependence on opioids for relief.
Regional Anesthesia – In some cases, a nerve block can be performed by your anesthesiologist before your surgery to help decrease the amount of pain medication required right after surgery. Regional techniques, including the use of epidural catheters, are especially helpful for certain orthopedic surgeries, as well as surgeries involving opening up the chest wall or abdomen.
Mind/Body Approaches – There is a lot more to pain management than just medication, even when it comes to treating post-operative pain. Relaxation training, meditation apps, music, and even virtual reality have been shown to lower the need for painkillers. In some cases, hands-on therapies like massage and acupuncture can also help reduce pain and swelling. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
To make sure you have the most effective, and the safest, postoperative pain control, talk to your doctor ahead of time. Don’t wait until the day of surgery to have the discussion. Having a plan in advance will allow time for coordination to take place between your surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and the facility where the surgery is taking place.
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